Resident Aliens: A Provocative Christian Assessment of Culture and Ministry for People Who Know that Something is Wrong

by Stanley Hauerwas

Paperback, 1989





Only when the Church enacts its scandalous Jesus-centered tradition will it truly be the body of Christ and transform the world. Twenty-five years after its first appearance, Resident Aliens remains a prophetic vision of how the Church can regain its vitality, battle its malaise, reclaim its capacity to nourish souls, and stand firmly against the illusions, pretensions, and eroding values of today's world. Resident Aliens discusses the nature of the church and its relationship to surrounding culture. It argues that churches should focus on developing Christian life and community rather than attempting to reform secular culture. Stanley Hauerwas and William H. Willimon reject the idea that America is a Christian nation; instead, Christians should see themselves as "resident aliens" in a foreign land. According to Hauerwas and Willimon, the role of Christians is not to transform government but to live lives that model the love of Christ. Rather than try to convince others to change their ethics, Christians should model a new set of ethics that are grounded in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.… (more)


Abingdon Press (1989), Edition: 1, 175 pages

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½ (116 ratings; 3.9)

User reviews

LibraryThing member wrmjr66
Hauerwas and Willimon challenge the contemporary church--and particularly the clergy--to actively create communities that follow Jesus. They argue that Christendom exists no more, and that contemporary society is far closer to 1st century society with religious pluralism and Christianity out of
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power than it is to 19th century ideas that Christianity was the norm in society. As a result, they call for clergy and believers to cease making accommodations to the society in which we live and instead to live as "resident aliens" who belong to a different kingdom.
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LibraryThing member LTW
In this bold and visionary ebook, two leading Christian thinkers explore the "alien" status of Christians in today's world, and offer a compelling new vision of how the Christian church can regain its vitality, battle its malaise, reclaim its capacity to nourish souls, and stand firmly against the
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illusions, pretensions, and eroding values of today's world. Hauerwas and Willimon call for a radical new understanding of the church. By renouncing the emphasis on personal psychological categories, they offer a vision of the church as a colony, a holy nation, a peole, a family standing for sharply focused values in a devalued world.
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LibraryThing member jd234512
Some of these concepts are a bit dated and done well by others, but it still stands as a great book in talking about the way the church should look amongst the world and the status it should maintain in its society and world.
LibraryThing member johnredmond
This book was quite an awakening for me when I first read it. Today it seems somewhat too strident in tone. Maybe because I have come to take it's arguments somewhat for granted.
LibraryThing member gdill
Severely disappointed. I had heard great things about this book. I really tried getting into it, but I just couldn't bring myself to finish it. I found it rather boring and it seemed as if the authors were rambling on to me. Even though I ascribe to many of the beliefs of the Anabaptist tradition,
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there didn't seem to be any new fresh insight gained from this book. Nor, did it seem there was anything new or different than what the Bible already speaks to in regards to living as aliens of this world. However, I am a fan of Hauerwas' progressive views and will likely read some of his other works sometime within the near future.
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LibraryThing member wishanem
Self-righteous, self-congratulatory, pompous, and unambitious: This book is a clear example of what is wrong with Seminarians. There are good ideas here (Christianity shouldn't be a slave to tradition or society), but the good ideas are underdeveloped, unsupported, and drowned in a sea of
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The authors say things like, "God demands that we sacrifice the lives of our children and those we love to our interpretation of His will!", "Democracy and individual rights are idols!" "Biblical
authority is more important than compassion or kindness!"

I don't buy any of that and I won't endorse it.
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LibraryThing member PastorBob
Quite a disappointing book given the level of fanfare it produced.

It's unfortunate that the arbitrary assumptions Hauerwas and Willimon make about secular Western culture are based such a weak interpretation of our context. They are right about the changing role of the church through the last
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century and the need for the church to present a real politic for our culture. But instead of theological or scriptural roots for that polis, and while ignoring the Christian development of ideas they don't like, they allow their antipathy for liberal democracy and capitalism to suffice in its stead, meaning they rather unquestioningly do little more than repeat the tired old secular leftist complaints about Western culture which have drifted about for two centuries. For example, their articulation of individualism in the West presents a mere caricature of the philosophical and historical reality of the nuanced ideas in question: ideas clearly rooted in Christian faith and history; ideas which have lead to relative relief from poverty, tyranny and war in the West. Their call for church and clergy to regain their rightful task in truth telling, in a similar fashion, sounds so noble and invigorating until one discovers that the political truth they expect to be told is just nonsense.

Christian communities are indeed aliens in the West, but not for the reasons Hauerwas and Willimon would like us to believe.
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